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Her captivating stories and vibrant characters have earned New York Times bestselling author Mary Jo Putney enthusiastic praise from reviewers and readers alike. Now, from the majestic mansions of eighteenth-century London to the mist-shrouded wilds of the Scottish Highlands, she brings you her most breathtaking romantic adventure yet.
Laird of an ancient, powerful Scottish clan, Duncan Macrae is committed to ending the ceaseless strife between Scotland and England. But he also has other, secret powers—those of a Guardian, humans with mystical abilities to control nature’s forces and see into the hearts of others. And from the moment he encounters the young and independent English widow Gwyneth Owens, his fiery spirit is irrevocably drawn to claim her as his own—a passion that will not only set his loyalty to his land against his sworn Guardian vows, but will also threaten everything he cherishes most.
Though Gwynne’s father was a Guardian, she believes that she has inherited only her mother’s beauty, not her father’s power. Then one kiss from the dangerously alluring Laird of the Macraes ignites a hunger that shakes her to her soul—and reveals visions of a looming catastrophe that threatens England and Scotland both. Only by becoming Duncan’s wife, and ultimately betraying the man she loves, can she avert disaster.
As destiny and two mighty nations clash, Gwynne and Duncan must push their powers and passions beyond the most forbidden limits if they are to save their love—and secure the future.
With Mary Jo Putney’s consummate skill and dazzling historical detail, A Kiss of Fate brings an unforgettable period to life—and will forever enthrall your senses with memorable characters and sweeping emotions.
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A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author, Mary Jo Putney is a graduate of Syracuse University with degrees in eighteenth-century literature and industrial design. A nine-time finalist in the Romance Writers of America RITA contests, she has won two RITAS, four consecutive Golden Leaf Awards for Best Historical Romance, the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Historical Romance, and has four times had books listed by the American Library Association as among the top five romances of the year. Her books have also received frequent awards from online reader sites such as The Romance Reader, All About Romance, Romance Readers Anonymous, and Under the Covers Awards. The author of more than two dozen novels, Ms. Putney lives near Baltimore, Maryland.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Duncan Macrae inhaled deeply, intoxicated by the rampant scents of summer. Having arrived in London the night before after a long, grueling tour of the Continent, he would have preferred to spend the day sleeping, but his friend Lord Falconer had insisted on dragging him from London to Richmond. Now Duncan was glad he had come.
As they rounded the corner of their hostess's mansion, he scanned the women in gorgeous gowns who drifted across the emerald grass, flirting outrageously with even more gorgeous gentlemen. "The ladies of London are like a bouquet of exotic flowers."
Simon Malmain smiled lazily. "You'll find no females so exquisite in those wild Scottish hills of yours."
"Scottish lassies are just as lovely, and with far less artifice." Duncan glanced at the sky. "Lady Bethany chose her day well. Britain at its best."
"As you know, she has some Macrae blood. Enough to always choose a fine day for her entertainments despite our chancy English weather." Simon lovingly smoothed a wrinkle from his blue brocade sleeve. "If rain threatened, I'd not have worn this new coat. It was damnably expensive."
Duncan grinned. His friend mimicked the manners of a fop so perfectly that even Duncan, who had known him since the nursery, sometimes had trouble remembering that Simon was the most dangerous mage in Britain. Except, perhaps, for Duncan himself. "Where is Lady Bethany? I should pay my respects to our hostess. It's been years since I've seen her."
Simon shaded his eyes to scan the crowd. "Over there, below the gazebo."
The men turned their steps toward their hostess. Duncan eyed the lavish refreshment tables with interest, but eating must wait upon manners. As they neared the gazebo, he heard a string quartet inside, playing music as lighthearted as the day. "It's hard to believe that the shadow of civil war lies over Britain," Duncan said softly.
"That's why you're here," Simon said with equal softness. "And it's why I and others have spent so much time in Scotland. The future isn't fixed. If we Guardians build enough bridges between our nations, perhaps war can be averted."
"Perhaps, but the Scots and the English have been fighting for centuries, and such bloody habits are not easily broken." Duncan gave his friend a slanting glance. "The first time you and I met, we did our best to beat each other unconscious."
"Yes, but that wasn't based on the fact that you were a barbarian Scot," Simon said promptly. "I hated you because you were brought to the nursery during my lessons, and immediately proved that your Greek was better than mine."
Duncan smiled wryly as he remembered that first encounter. "I suppose that's better than hating each other for our nationalities."
The group they were approaching included half a dozen men and women, with the rounded figure and silver hair of Lady Bethany Fox in the center. Though past her seventieth year, she had the posture and fine bones that had made her an acclaimed Beauty her entire life. She was a passionate gardener, a doting grandmother, and the most powerful sorceress in Britain.
Lady Bethany laughed at something said by the woman at her side. Duncan shifted his gaze, and stopped dead in his tracks, entranced by Lady Beth's companion. Tall and elegant, she wore a creamy gown of modest cut, yet her demure garb couldn't disguise a lushly curving figure designed to drive men mad. As if that wasn't alluring enough, her straw bonnet accented a classically featured face that sparkled with humor and intelligence. This was a dangerous woman.
"Dear God," he breathed as thunder cracked in the distance. "Helen of Troy."
"I beg your pardon?" Following Duncan's gaze, Simon said, "Ah, Lady Brecon. A lovely lass, but launch a thousand ships? I think not. Five or six at the most."
"Ten thousand ships. More. She is like an ancient enchantress whose glance could drive men to madness." Duncan gave thanks that Lady Brecon was unaware of his devouring gaze. In the full flower of her womanhood, she was so compelling that he could not have looked away to save his life. "Lord Brecon's wife, you say? The earl has good taste."
"She's not wife to the present Brecon, but widow to the old one. You were on the Continent when they married, but it was something of a scandal since she was only seventeen and Brecon was over seventy. She seemed rather a plain girl at the time."
"Plain?" Duncan watched as the lady turned her attention to a languid young fop in gold brocade. The pure curve of her throat mesmerized him, and that luminous skin begged to be caressed. "Her?"
"She blossomed during the marriage--a wealthy husband often has that effect. But she and Brecon seemed most sincerely devoted."
Trust Simon to know all the gossip. Absurdly grateful to learn she was a widow, Duncan tried to remember when the fifth Lord Brecon had died. A little over a year ago, he thought. "She must have legions of suitors now that she's out of mourning."
"She has many admirers, me among them, but I've never seen her favor any in particular." Simon cocked one brow. "I haven't seen you like this since we went to the gypsy horse fair and you spotted that gray hunter."
His friend was right. Duncan had been sixteen when he saw that horse, and his reaction was the same as today when he saw Lady Brecon: he had to have her.
He drew a slow breath, reminding himself that he wasn't sixteen anymore, the lady might be a shrew, or she might find him as alarming as most women did. One might purchase a desirable horse, but women were more difficult. "If she was Brecon's wife, she must be a Guardian?"
"Yes, one of the Owenses. She has no power to speak of, but she grew up in the library at Harlowe and is a notable scholar of Guardian lore. Since her husband died, she lives here in Richmond with Lady Bethany." Simon grinned. "Hard to believe they're sisters-in-law. The dowager countess looks like Lady Bethany's granddaughter."
If the lady was bookish, it didn't show. From her powdered hair to her dainty slippers, she was an exquisite confection designed to ornament the highest social circles.
Thunder sounded again, this time closer. Duncan's eyes narrowed. Directness was out of place in aristocratic London, but it was the only way he knew. "Introduce me to the lady, Simon, so I can learn if she is as perfect as she appears."
Gwynne smiled at the appallingly bad sonnet Sir Anselm White had recited to her. Though his heart was in the right place, his verses were leagues away in the wrong direction. "You flatter me, Sir Anselm. My eyes are light brown, not 'sapphires bluer than the summer sky.' "
His languid gaze came briefly into focus as he studied the color of her eyes. "Golden coins that outshine the sun!"
She guessed that a metaphor had fallen on the poor man's head when he was an infant and he had never recovered. Since a small amount of Sir Anselm's poetry went a long way, she was glad to hear Bethany say, "Lord Falconer, how good to see you again."
Giving Sir Anselm a last smile before turning away, Gwynne greeted the newcomer warmly. "Simon, my favorite fop!" She extended her hand. "You've been neglecting me, you rogue."
One of the handsomest men in London, Falconer was always worthy of admiration. Today his fair hair was tied back with a blue riband the same shade as his brocade coat, both an exact match for his azure eyes. That embroidered silver waistcoat was more deserving of sonnets than any part of Gwynne's body. He could give Sir Anselm lessons in languid elegance--and underneath the elegance, he was a glittering blade sheathed in silk.
"A fop?" He sighed dramatically. "You wound me, my lady." He bowed over her hand with consummate grace, looking not at all wounded. "Allow me to present my friend Lord Ballister. You'll have heard of him, I think, but he's been travelling abroad for some time and says you've never had the opportunity to meet."
All Guardians had heard of Lord Ballister. Chieftain of the Macraes of Dunrath, among the Families he was known as Britain's finest weather mage. Some said he was even more powerful than his ancestor, Adam Macrae, who had conjured the great gale that destroyed the Spanish Armada.
Since he stood with the sun behind him, she could see little except the silhouette of a powerful, commanding figure. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Lord Ballister."
"The pleasure is mine." Ballister bowed.
A cloud darkened the sun as he straightened, enabling Gwynne to see his face clearly. His storm gray gaze struck her like lightning. Destiny . . . The word echoed in her mind, along with a dizzying sense that the world had changed irrevocably.
She scolded herself for too much imagination. The world was exactly as it had been. The grass was green, Bethany was composed, and Falconer his usual exquisite self. As for Ballister, he looked normal enough. Though his height and broad shoulders drew attention, his face was too craggy to be called handsome, and his navy blue coat and buff waistcoat were plain by the standards of aristocratic London.
Only his intense gray eyes were remarkable. She remembered a natural history demonstration she had once witnessed. The lecturer had said that electricity was a wild, mysterious force that could not be controlled and which no one understood. Surely that was electricity in Ballister's eyes, and in the very air that danced between them. . . .
She had spent too much time listening to Sir Anselm--his metaphors were contagious. "You have been on the Continent, ...
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Book Description Ballantine Books. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0345449169 Ships from Tennessee, usually the same or next day. Seller Inventory # Z0345449169ZN
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